Thursday, December 30, 2010

OUT with the OLD in with the NEW (year and other stuff)

So here it is the end of the year and WHAT we only made one video this year? How did that happen? We started last year with every intention of creating one a month for a total of twelve. That makes us eleven videos short! Oh well you know the saying: "the road to hell is paved with good intentions". ( I think the road to heaven is paved with LOVE but that's just my opinion.) Maybe next year the videos will take precedence over the blog - just a thought not a promise. In case you missed it here is our one and only Mesquite Furniture Making Video - to date:
So WHAT have we been working on?  Well unfortunately not a whole lot of Mesquite Furniture work going on at this time. The Dancing Trees took a huge amount of time and energy and most of our large mesquite wood inventory.  We are waiting on usable mesquite wood (slabbed and dried) to begin the chapel benches that go alongside the Dancing Trees. Lou has been tied up ripping out the tub in my parent's bathroom replacing it with a walk in shower and widening the doorways to make it all wheelchair accessible. Out with the OLD bathroom and in with the NEW.  Lou Quallenberg is mighty handy to have around - but seriously what a true waste of talent!

Taking care of an injured and aging parent has taken its toll in both time and energy from both of us. Not only do we worry over MeMaw's health and care we also have to make sure PaPaw does not over do it while looking after her.  We both look forward to the NEW year in hopes that MeMaw's healing means out with the OLD cast, in with the NEW improved, stronger ankle and overall physical MeMaw in general. A big THANK YOU from the Walker, Quallenberg and Martin families goes out to Llano Nursing and Rehabilitation, Physical Therapist Linda Walling, Occupational Therapist Luis Sirvent and all of the caregivers that took such good care of her.  We only have two skilled nursing facilities in Llano, Texas and only one that provides the much needed services of rehabilitation.

Any day now the two Jackson & Sister Tables will be headed OUT on their journey to the UK where they will make their debut in London.  We are proud to have a few NEW representatives for our work. The lovely and talented Amie Prest and her hard working husband Joe Prest the owners of Hill Country Mesquite will be introducing Lou Quallenberg's Mesquite Art Furniture to the UK and Europe. We look forward to a long and prosperous partnership with the Prests. Their passion for Mesquite combined with their positive energy is a sight to behold. The fine folks at Hill Country Mesquite will also be promoting Mesquite, Mesquite Products as well as the fine works of Shangri-la Woodworks and Texas Mesquite Co.  We wish them super success as they start this new venture.

Because we had made the decision to partner with Hill Country Mesquite and get our work shown on the London worldwide stage it was an easy decision to enter the British Airways Face of Opportunity Contest with a chance to win a trip to NYC / London and on to any destination that British Airways flys.

First let me say that we may not have found out about the British Airways Contest if it had not been for Thea Marx of Contemporary Western Design mentioning it on her facebook page. Her promotion of all things contemporary and western is amazing.  This woman is a one horse promoting machine!!! We thought for sure she would be one of the finalists for the TEN ticket prize British Airways is giving away. Check out her video here: youtube

So we entered the essay contest on a whim  thinking wouldn't it be nice to go and see Lou's pieces in London or wherever they end up overseas. Well it is about that time that MeMaw ended up in the hospital and voting deadline was a few short days away.  We kinda lost track of what was going on then Amie Prest emailed us to tell us the Texas Hill Country Fans on facebook had taken up the cause. They voted their hearts out daily (and so did most of our friends) and because of that we WON!!

Our Winning Essay:

Lou Quallenberg's Texas Mesquite Art: London DEBUT

My business tip is to follow your passion. If you are doing your own THING and starting up a business, it is guaranteed that you are going to be working harder and longer than the competition and all of your 9 to5 friends. This means you better be doing that one THING that makes your heart sing!
My THING is creating art furniture from one of the most amazing woods I have ever seen: Texas Mesquite. Much like me- this very hard, craggly, gnarly wood is full of character, holes and color variations created from the stressful conditions that the tree survives and thrives in. The wood has a rich color range that flows from golden blonde to a rich, deep, velvet red and so many stunning combinations in between. No two pieces are ever the same and I try to use that uniqueness to my advantage. My one of a kind sculpted designs are created and inspired by each individual piece of wood as I attempt to honor the incredible life that the tree lived.
My company Lou Quallenberg Studios in Llano, Texas was recently contacted by Hill Country Mesquite in Nottinghamshire, England. Their THING is to market mesquite and mesquite products in the UK. The company and I have reached an agreement to export some of my pieces to England to be part of their showcase of mesquite art pieces at the end of this year and early part of next year. I would like to travel to London to help promote this incredible wood and my furniture art to an audience of Art Galleries, Home and Garden Magazines, and prospective clients that are currently being courted by Hill Country Mesquite. I am very excited to have my work put onto the world stage with London as the launch pad and it would be so incredible to actually be on location for it‘s debut.
While I’m in the UK I would like to pay a visit to master craftsman, furniture maker and teacher David Savage at the Rowden farm Workshops in Devon. It would be a dream come true to take a class, but at the very least I would like to see the shop, gain a few woodworking tips, be inspired and perhaps discuss the merits of mesquite wood.
I would feel honored to attend any business forums or seminars that British Airways puts together for small business. So I’m asking you to please help me play a bigger role on the world business stage and help me grow my business into a lasting legacy, so I can just keep doing my THING.

Due to a conflict in schedules Cheryl Quallenberg will be making the trip and attending the conferences representing Lou Quallenberg Studios in place of the busy Lou Quallenberg and you can be sure she will be posting about it on the blog hopefully with a few pictures and great stories. Just stay tuned.

Don't forget if you are not in London you can see Lou's work Stateside at these two fine Galleries both NEW representatives this year:
Riverbend Fine Art
710 1st Street
Marble Falls, TX 78654
Circle on the Square
103 east main
llano,texas 78643
and you can always visit us online 
or stop by the shop and we can show you what we have going on 
just call first to be sure we are around and not off flying around the world.

While we were so very sad with the sudden OUT going of life and light from our sweet Louie this year, we are so very happy with our NEW puppy Barney. 

He turns a year old in January and he has gone from 95 lbs to 150 lbs in the small amount of time we have had him. He literally grows before our eyes some days. Every pound he adds somehow expands our hearts more than we ever thought possible.  He has brought his delightful lumbering puppy bounce and his wavy walk into our lives and while he slobbers more than Louie ever did, it is still so much less than our Jake who slobbered all over our hearts and home when he was alive.

A word of Congratulations goes out to Llano, Texas for making True West Magazine's List of Top Ten True Western Towns. While we helped do the work  of putting the application together it was the charm of Llano's History, Llano's Historic Courthouse and Red Top Jail and the hard work of MANY that create and put on the events that evoke the Western Spirit of this great little town. We are so happy to be a part of this great small town. Thank you Llano, Texas!!!
Cheryl & Lou Quallenberg with Mr. Big Bucks

 Don't forget that the auction for the Trail of the Deer Community Art Project has begun. Put your bucks down for Big Bucks or one of his beautiful herd mates!!! The money goes to create more deer for the Trail of the Deer and to promote Art in Llano, Texas.

It's been an amazing and blessed year for us with we made a Video,  have not one but two NEW Galleries representing us, painted a deer for Trail of the Deer, created Dancing Trees,  made the London Connection, Won the Rikon Mini Lathe via a Client, Won Best Texas Style Award (3 years in a row), Won British Airways Face of Opportunity Award, helped Llano make the True West Top Ten and received a GIANT Puppy,  we truly have so much to be thankful for and WE ARE!!  So OUT with the OLD year and in with the NEW Year.  With the amazing way the past year went I doubt we can even start to imagine the possibilities of the NEW YEAR.....

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mesquite Sources and Many Thanks!

This month has presented us with a new journey as we work through the steps of having to care for an aging parent. MeMaw (Cheryl’s mother / Lou Quallenberg's mother in law) fell and broke her ankle while visiting at our house.  She required surgery and because her opposite leg had been shattered 43 years ago - almost to the date, her opposite knee was already scheduled for replacement, and she had poor upper body strength, she requires rehab and therapy in the local nursing home.  Ahhh the dreaded nursing home or “sniff” as one doctor called it “Skilled Nursing Facility” Oh my we have so much to learn.... 

November found us in short supply of dried and ready to work mesquite our inventory having been recently diminished creating the Dancing Trees.   Our scouting and sourcing mesquite wood really opened our eyes to how much the Texas Mesquite Industry really is in it’s infancy.  We were quoted any where from $12 a board foot to $100 a board foot and many ranges in between with the average at $24 a board foot. Unable to find what we needed size wise, already dried we ended up with a truckload of logs.

Since promoting mesquite is what we are about we thought we would share our sources and promote these folks who are making a living with mesquite.

Lou w/Mesquite Burl's Dan & Josh
Mesquite Burl
Josh and Dan
1715 Rowe Lane Suite A
Pflugerville, TX 78660
 Phone: 512-782-0497
Barney visiting Mesquite Burl
These guys have some great wood on hand focusing on book matched sets. We ended up buying and strapping two heavy slabs into the back of the truck for a clients dining room table project. As we drove out the driveway we received a call from the client about a change in design.  (Oh well it is mesquite and I know we will use it!!) Barney loved the visit and has requested a trip to see the huge burl that they have at their kiln location. It is reported to be a monster and possibly the biggest ever.  Lou has his heart set on finding a project for it.
Brandon Berdoll's specially designed spacers

Berdoll Sawmill & Furniture Co.
Brandon Berdoll
4754 FM 535
Cedar Creek, Texas 78612
 Phone: 512-497-5910 

Brandon Berdoll at his Mill
Brandon Berdoll met us at the Fredericksburg Mesquite Show with photos of a giant tree.  We were  surprised when he showed up the following day with the tree loaded on a trailer, causing quite a stir and stepping on a few toes. He has since joined the Mesquite Association and learned that lesson.
Lou w/ Brandon Berdoll at his Sawmill

His operation is geared more towards pecan which makes sense because his family has a huge pecan orchard and retail store.  Brandon tried to work in the family business but it was clear his passion was for the wood. Brandon's passion for doing things the right way comes across clearly from his specially designed wood risers that leave a smaller footprint on the slabs of wood, to his system of keeping the wood in flitches.
Flitch: A flitch is a complete log slabbed lengthwise and then placed back together in sequential order. The advantage of having a flitch is to ensure matching grain and color. This can be very important to a project especially with the wide color ranges that mesquite can come in.
We love Brandon's infectious passion for doing things right and his admirable collection of huge pecan trees and slabs.  Lou has even considered experimenting with some pecan but he knows his time is limited and he already has a growing collection of mesquite. Guess you can't have enough wood.   

Sage Creek Farms
Lee Westphal
2350 CR202
Burnet, Texas 78611
Phone: 512-784-2512
Sawmill and woodworking

Lee Westphal is another young whippersnapper that we truly appreciate.  Lou met and befriended him when he was running the mill in Burnet, Texas: Hill Country Woodworks. Lee is a real go getter, always working even his vacations are work. He goes to the Crater of Diamonds State Park and digs for diamonds and he has quite a collection to show for it!!!  Lee bought the saw and will still be cutting some of our wood. He knows how Lou likes it and we are loyal customers.

Ed the Woodsman / Tejas Mesquite
Ed Edwards
1324 FM 2606
Henrietta, Texas 76365
Phone: 940-704-2404
Truckload of  Mesquite delivered to the door.
Ed the Woodsman and Lou Quallenberg

We had heard about Ed Edwards from several sources and only wish we had reached out sooner.  Ed was only happy to bring a load of mesquite logs to Llano, Texas with no obligation to buy.  Lou really liked what he saw and bought the whole load. The logs were inventoried and each given a price so he really was under no obligation but he could not resist. Besides he needed to get started finding the wood for the benches for the chapel in Bandera. Ed Edwards unloaded and organized the logs for Lou even offering to help move them at a later date.  It is so great to work with people that really enjoy what they do. It is obvious that Ed and everyone else mentioned above enjoys what they do.

Ed moved the logs
and moved them
and left them all nice and organized.
Thank you to everyone who voted, and voted, and voted regularly in the British Airways Face of Opportunity Contest! HUGE thanks to Texas Hill Country group on Face book , the gang at 401 creative, and Joe and Amie Prest with Hill Country Mesquite across the pond in Nottighampshire, England.  We still don’t know the results but does it really matter? It was fun. 

Oops! Just found out WE WON!!!!!!  Yeah! A trip to London for ONE in Feb on specific dates because of the conferences in NYC and London. I am checking on the cost of companion tickets as I write this.

 Speaking of thank you's below are photos of Lou delivering a long promised table to the wonderful gentleman and family that contacted us to cut down a tree that threatened their house. This is the same tree that provided the slabs for "Dancing Trees" that went into the chapel in Bandera.  The family felt like it was a full circle moment since his family had come from Spain, building chapels along the way.  I love how God works.....
Lou returns a part of the tree in table form.
Yep it feels nice Lou Quallenberg!!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Working with LOVE and Letting Go

What a busy month it has been!
We actually took a break from the shop to show Lou's work at the Texas Mesquite Art Festival in Fredericksburg. We caught up with our artist friends, made so many great contacts and gave out more cards than we had actually planned for.  We are now the proud owners of the Rikon Mini Lathe that Wood Craft raffled off for the Texas Mesquite Association thanks to our dear client friend's George & Sheila R. who bought a ticket saying they would give it to Lou if they won it.  I'm the one that really wanted the mini lathe but that is a whole story for another time....

The Dancing Trees were safely delivered and installed in their recently constructed, private chapel home in Bandera.  You can read a bit more on that below.

Carolyn's Curves at the TFM Show
The Carolyn's Curves table was finished up in the nick of time and delivered to the Texas Furniture Makers Show in Kerrville as the final coat of oil and wax slowly dried and was quickly but lovingly rubbed in. As we headed home from the show drop off we received word that my great uncle Gene Walker (age 101) had passed away. He was an amazing man serving as Director of Wildlife Services for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and marrying his best friend's widow at age 85. He will be missed.

As I write this we attended the Texas Furniture Makers Show Award Ceremony and Reception and I'm proud to announce Lou's winning streak continues on, with a 3rd year in a row Best Texas Style Award. Not bad for a Jersey Boy! (MORE HERE)

Then to wrap it all up, a partnership between Lou Quallenberg Studios and Hill Country Mesquite in Nottinghamshire, England was developed with the agreement of sending the two Jackson Sister tables abroad to spread the word about both mesquite and Lou Quallenberg's Art Furniture Style.WOW! We are like worried parents as we let them go on this fabulous journey.

I wanted to touch a bit on the subject of letting go.  I can't speak for other artists but for Lou and I a sense of loss is felt each time we deliver a piece to it's new home or client.  So much time, love, energy and spirit is poured into each piece that the separation comes with a feeling of loss. I can't speak from experience but I believe it is much like the feeling a woman has just after giving birth.  The piece is made real and becomes it's own entity, set free into the world, no longer a part of you but still holding a piece of you inside.  It is at this point that hopefully another project or piece is there waiting in the wings to be made or the sense of loss can linger and turn into an emotional depression. (yep, been there.) We are becoming better at this letting go thing, but there are several pieces that remain in our possession that I suspect we have not been able to release emotionally and therefore are blocking the financial sale of them.

The Dancing Trees Project being one of Lou's largest pieces to date, was an incredible piece both in size and the time constraints placed on the project. Lou is not comfortable working quickly, he prefers to take time with his pieces often saying "you can't rush art." Most of his clients agree and wait patiently for their piece to be considered "done" by Lou's perspective.

We both truly believe the quote:
"Work is love made visible"  Kahlil Gibran. 
So when he agreed to take the project with the October 25th deadline we knew it would mean many late nights and no real time off until the piece was delivered.  When the client later requested that the following bible verse:
The wood burned bible verse on the back of Lou Quallenberg's Dancing Trees
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”(Col 3:23-24 NIV)
be added to the back of the Dancing Trees Lou thought "Oh no problem, we can just have a piece laser engraved and then embed it into the back."  WRONG! She said no, she wanted LOU to actually carve or burn it in.

Lou was so worried that he would make a mistake or that the results would be unprofessional and look like a five year old had done it. There would not be time to get the piece done and add the scripture, so it was agreed that he would add it at a later date.  Well Lou really does not like to do a job half way.  I have found that as you work with love in your heart and soul, the spirit takes over, and time actually has the ability to stretch. Sometimes this is referred to as being in the the zone. In this case it stretched enough for him to practice wood burning, Dremel and carving.

Lou Quallenberg's Dancing Trees glow during installation into their Chapel home.
He found that with such a short learning period, he produced the best results with the wood burning.  He also discovered that the wood burning worked better on an un-oiled surface, so he taped off one of his signature curves into a scroll like area and sanded it down. Then using a font that the client chose he burned the words one by one. Next he added the oil and wax finish.  The writing is inscribed on a lighter area with a desired ghosted effect to help aid in the visibility.

Lou Quallenberg's Dancing Trees were installed WITH the inscription because he worked with love in his heart and time stretched so the project would be complete.

Now we all know WHO did the stretching and had HIS hands all over this entire project from start to finish and for that we say a BIG thank you! We have been so very blessed.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Show Time and a New Look

It is American Craft Week  this week October 1st-10th 2010. Support your local and American artists, artisans and craftsmen this week and every week, ALL year long. It is a part of what makes America great! Find more info online here:
The Chapel Construction Site "Noah's Dream"
 The final push to complete The Dancing Trees portion of this large commission project is underway.  We made a quick visit to the Chapel site in Bandera and it seems they are in the same boat.  Push push push!

I am not sure where Lou gets his stamina but I am, as always, in awe. He has been working until eight or nine almost every night and he takes a partial day off only when I begin kicking and screaming. Hey it is hard to compete with those seven lovely mesquite ladies in all their wood grained glory! They consume him. Speaking of consuming our evening meal is usually at 9 or 9:30pm and probably why I am currently gaining weight. That's my excuse and I'm sticking with it.

Barney 126lbs?!!
BTW Barney is currently tipping the scales at 126 lbs with three more months to go before he hits his first birthday.

It will be tight but we DO still hope and plan to show at the Texas Mesquite Association's Mesquite Art Festival in Fredericksburg, Texas on October 8th, 9th and 10th, 2010.

Our Niece Taylor Martin
Because of the Show we will have my niece's Sweet 16 Birthday Party on that Thursday instead of Friday (then she will have her Paintball Party on that Sunday with her friends.)

Happy Sweet Sixteen Taylor Leigh Martin!  We Love You!! She is so Sa-Weet! (A lil sassy too! )

At the Fredericksburg Mesquite Art Festival/Show we will get to catch up with our artist friends Craig Lagerstrom, Cappy White and Scott & Stephanie Shangraw and hopefully make some $ales. Pray for good weather! It was wet and cold last year. Wet and cold is just not good for the furniture and a major reason why we do not do outdoor shows. This will be our first time at Fredericksburg - we prefer the San Angelo Mesquite Festival/ Show because it is INSIDE at Fort Concho.

 Texas Furniture Makers Show: Steve Walker & Lou Quallenberg
Lou is also trying to finish up his piece for the 11th Annual Texas Furniture Makers Show in Kerrville, Texas. That piece, a beautiful sculpted mesquite coffee table, needs to deliver on October 18th for the Show opening day October 21st. The Texas Furniture Makers Show is held at the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center and goes from Oct 21st until December 4th, 2010.  The Eleventh Annual Texas Furniture Makers Show Awards Ceremony and Reception is on October 30th, where we will find out if this years piece is a Strazzanator.  Lou coined the term because Frank Strazza of Homestead Heritage has a way with furniture making using only hand tools. His pieces are exquisite and each year Lou shoots to create a piece that will stand up to Frank's work and perhaps one day take home the Best in Show award.
"The Dancing Trees" will leave the Lou Quallenberg Studios workshop in  Llano and take up residence in their beautiful new Chapel the end of October.  I know Lou will have a hard time parting with these beautiful ladies. He always feels the loss when his pieces go to their new homes.

A New Look......

Lou Quallenberg Studios "NEW" look to attract more artistic, sculptural work  (Photo from Dancing Trees)

We are currently rolling out a new look, designed we hope, to attract more artistic, sculptural work from our clients.  We will have the new post cards at the shows and we have an ad that will hit the December Issue of Cowboys & Indians Magazine on newsstands the end of October.  Cowboys & Indians Magazine is the magazine that included Lou Quallenberg in the article Woodworkers who've carved out reputations as some of the country's best craftsmen.)  Also look for the new look on our website here:  Let us know what you think.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Making Connections for Dancing Trees and in Life

Lou Quallenberg with the rough cut mesquite slabs of his Dancing Trees
The Mesquite Screen Scaffold
As you can see Lou Quallenberg's latest project, the Dancing Trees are now up and standing.  He achieved this feat with the help of a scaffold built specifically for that purpose.

All kinds of neat things have been created for this very special project. The one I wanted to talk about this month are the Connections, the special mesquite hardware pieces, Lou created that will connect the mesquite slabs to each other. There will be twelve of these beauties and each one will be sized and specially sculpted for it's specific location.

The Connections are created from solid chunks of squared 4"x4"x12-18" mesquite blocks that were cut into thin 1/8th inch slices.  The slices were then organized into opposite grained sets for strength and taped together.  Next they are glued together using System Three epoxy. We use this more expensive epoxy because so far it is the strongest epoxy we have found on the market. Once glued up they are then clamped and left to dry for several days.

After the glued blocks are dry they are then trimmed and cut into blocks the specific size required. The blocks are very carefully measured for their spot and then sculpted using the band saw, spindle sander, grinders and sand paper  to achieve the desired look. The different colors of the mesquite slices and the opposite grains give the Connection its striped variations. Lou thinks of them as mini tree limbs and each is a sculpted treasure.
Glued and Clamped Block
Mesquite Slices
 Taped Set of Mesquite Slices

The groove is cut into the sculpted piece using a router and jig. The tongue for the Connection is made from maple and will be screwed into the slab opposite of the sculpted Connection.  The tongue portion of the Connection will not be visible. Mesquite can be brittle and in order to ensure the durability of these Connections another hard wood was chosen.  These will be long lasting Connections.

 Mesquite Connector & Maple Tongue
Mesquite Connector and Block
Speaking of Connections I wanted to talk a bit about connections in business and the connections that weave throughout our lives.  First I want to mention how important it is to connect and follow up with your clients according to Richard Koch in The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Success by Achieving More with Less  using Pareto's Principle eighty percent of your business comes from twenty percent of your clients (it seems to be pretty much true for  Lou Quallenberg Studios.)  That twenty percent is important to your success!

Wet Mesquite Connection
Call them, email them follow up make that connection. You cannot fake the connection but if you honestly love what you are doing then you probably have formed some form of connection with that client. Nurture that connection!  It's basic customer service and it seems to have gone by the wayside as more companies become corporate giants and lose the connection with their customers.  

This new client came to us through a former client, obviously a satisfied former client. We connected regularly with this former client on facebook, via email and by phone. 

We spend hours trying to learn and understand the best way to connect using social media and the internet.  We tweet on twitter, post updates on facebook, link up on Linked In, blog on blogger all for the sake of connecting to our clients and prospective clients.

We try to keep a close and open connection with our Galleries (Artisans, Circle & Riverbend ) and other Representatives. Our open and sharing connection is truly enjoyed with our many artist friends. By helping out where we can we try to keep a community connection. We keep the family connection going by sharing shop space with Steve A. Walker and working Shawn A. Walker to the bone in his spare time, on top of regular family gatherings. Oh and we can't forget about our Pet Family connection (BTW Barney is now 7 months old and 110 lbs! He's a BIG puppy!)

 We all make connections throughout our lives and I truly believe these connections are what life is really ALL about.  Whether it is a connection with family, friends, customers, employees or a stranger in the parking lot the important thing is to make the connection!
A big thank you to Susan Britton Seyler for writing this recent article on 
Mesquite Heirloom Furniture by Lou Quallenberg - National designer furniture | Award winning Mesquite Artist Lou Quallenberg creates sculpted live edge furniture in a contemporary style that reflects the flavor of the west.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dancing Trees: A mesquite art project in the Texas Hill Country

Last month I mentioned the fact that we had spent the last thirty days looking at hundred dollar bills and images of money in order to paint our entry in the Trail of Deer Community Art Project. (Bidding on the Bucks has now started check it out here: Llano's Trail of the Deer) I said that it had brought us good fortune but I failed to mention that we had been contacted by what we expect will be one of our largest clients/projects to date! So YES! Working on Big Bucks brought in some big bucks!!

Our new baby Barney
And its a good thing because the newest addition to our household is a 97 lb, six month old, English Mastiff puppy we fondly call Barney. He is on track to eat us out of house and home!! I am afraid he does not know his real size and this problem is only going to get worse as he grows into his 200 lb potential.

He has brought the puppy bounce into our lives and his bark reminds us to stop, take a break and play.  We also have our hands full with housebreaking and socializing- every rug in the house has been out on the fence this past week.

While his addition to our life is a bit stressful we both have fallen in love and can't imagine a life without him. Welcome Barney!!!

Large Mesquite Slabs
This NEW  PROJECT is one that Lou can really sink his artistic teeth into.  It is a for private chapel in the Texas Hill Country and includes a huge mesquite slabbed screen to match the client designed, custom, curved window/wall, mesquite benches and lectern.  Lou had been looking for some direction on his artistic path. I feel sure this project came into being to provide that direction for his creativity as well as his soul.

Lou Quallenberg with Mesquite Slab
The Mesquite slabs are pieces that Lou has been saving for "special" projects.  They have been in the shop air drying for a few years,  after their initial time kiln drying.   The center slab he will use in this design is another sister slab to both Jackson and Jackson Sister which were both made into coffee tables and debuted together at the Western Design Conference in 2008.  Jackson Sister also won the Best Texas Style Furniture Award at the Texas Furniture Makers Show® in Kerrville in 2008.  So these Mesquite slabs have a great family tree!

Sketch Mesquite Screen
It almost always starts with a sketch.  Lou Quallenberg has sketches and doodles all over his many work areas. They provide ideas as well as inspiration.  When he begins a project he usually provides a sketch to the client just to be sure they are all on the same page. Most of his work ends up looking very much like the sketch. Somehow he seems to know in advance the many directions the pieces and wood will take him.

The size and scope of this project caused him to really want an accurate visualization, both for himself and the client. The actual slabs are very heavy and require extra hands to move them around. Even though the project is on a tight deadline, Lou really felt it called for a scale model mock up. 

In order to do that we took photos of each slab chosen for the project. A 12 inch tape was placed on the slab so that all pieces could be accurately re-sized and scaled down. He then placed the photos onto small pieces of mesquite and cut each one out.  He drew on some of the smaller cracks and holes in pencil. We ended up with what is much like a puzzle. He played around with the mini slabs until he found the right balance.

Model with seven Mesquite Slabs
Model with five Mesquite Slabs
As you can see in the photos, the design was changed from the original five slabs of mesquite to seven slabs of mesquite. This is why taking the time to make a scale model version for your client can really pay off.  Lou was very happy with the design at five slabs but the client chose to add two more slabs and it really did make a difference visually.

In order to finish this new piece before the approaching October Deadline, we needed to temporarily expand the workspace. Lou found what he thought was a great deal on an outdoor Garage/Canopy at Sam's Wholesale. We had hoped the canopy would be multi-purpose and serve not only as temporary workspace but also as a possible Show Booth at the Texas Mesquite Art Festival in Fredericksburg. We have been considering doing this show even though it is an outdoor show.

The canopy is now installed and is definitely serving its purpose as 200 square feet of extra work space, but the set up and installation challenges will probably keep us from using it as a booth. Maybe it can become my greenhouse? The lesson we learned from this whole canopy  experience is that Sam's does not always have the best price.  We found the exact same canopy (according to the manufacturer King Canopy-see emails below) at Walmart for $199 and Sam's has it priced $219.74.  So buyer beware always do your price checks before purchasing.
From: "Will Cowan"
Date: July 28, 2010 2:32:45 PM CDT
Subject: RE: [Contact Us] Sams & Walmart Canopies

Hi Lou,

I apologize for the delay in getting back to you, we are running a backlog
on emails about 3-4 days long and are trying to catch up.

Yes, those are the same canopy. It is the BJ2PC (our model #). I am not sure
why Wal-Mart and Sam's have different prices, it might be for shipping
purposes that Sam's is $20 more, but I don't set their prices. Regardless,
they are still cheaper than what I could sell you them for.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.

Thank you,
King Canopy Customer Service

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of
Sent: Monday, July 26, 2010 5:45 PM
Subject: [Contact Us] Sams & Walmart Canopies

Lou Quallenberg sent a message using the contact form at

These two Canopy's seem to be the same? Are they? 9438 h
The canopy works well as extra outdoor space and the grinding has begun. Now cross your fingers that he will be able to get it done in time. I would prefer not to hear the call "All Hands on Deck!" I'm really not that good at sanding.

This project is one of the big reasons (a backlog on the schedule) we will be missing out on The Western Design Conference in Jackson Hole and Cody High Style (which Lou Quallenberg Studios was invited to for the first time) in Cody, Wyoming this year. We hope both Shows understand and will still consider us for their future shows. We enjoy our wonderful trips to Wyoming but it is a long haul.  It takes huge effort to get Lou out of the shop and away from the wood.

Lou Quallenberg refers to the Mesquite Slab Screen piece as "Dancing Trees" and by the time he is finished I think these seven little ladies will all be singing as well.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Making Big Bucks!!

I promise next month we will talk about Mesquite and Mesquite Furniture making. But for now it's all about making "BIG Bucks"......

Llano's Trail of the Deer herd was successfully unveiled Sunday, June 27th and Lou Quallenberg Studios contribution "Mr. Big Bucks" was finally, officially complete and off of our plate.  You would think it would be a relief to have it off the schedule but I think, just as any artistic endeavor, once completed there is a feeling of loss or "Oh no now what?"  They are our babies after all. Now we have our dining room back and our evenings are once again available for whatever or wherever the night leads us, but there is still that hole.
Our entry "Mr. Big Bucks" started out as a hundred dollar bill design, trying to play up the "Bucks" theme.  I also thought it would not hurt us to be staring at hundred dollar bills for the next 30 days. The power of visualization is an awesome power that I have seen in action many times in my life. Some skeptics may call it a coincidence that the phone started ringing and opportunities began pouring in but I hafta disagree.  I am SURE that working on this "free" community art project has been a rain maker for us. You should try it!  Get an image of money and work on a fun project with it for 30 days and see what happens. It could change your life!!

The first layer of money green was applied with the help of my sweet sister Heather Martin and my nephew Matthew Martin. We would and could have done it without them, but it would not have been half as much fun.  There was a great deal of surface to cover and  the help was greatly appreciated. Matthew also helped some with the metallic gold antlers and eyes.
After the base coat was completed we let it air dry over Memorial Day weekend - while we were at the lake.  We then moved him from the Lou Quallenberg Studios shop to the house so that I could work on him as I had the energy- sometimes late at night. 

We originally thought we would airbrush the design but had to revert back to hand painting when Lou could not get the paints to work with the airbrush.  With only thirty days total to complete the project and the air brush idea out, we decided to go "old school".  Lou painted Harley choppers in the 70's so we fell back on his taping skills.  Let me just say Lou Quallenberg is amazing with tape!   There were multiple layers of tape to get all the lines in their proper places. Taping is an art in and of itself. The tape was great for all the lines but we could not really tape Ben Franklin off.
While at the lake my brother Shawn Walker cut a stencil of Ben Franklin using an enlarged version of an image of a hundred dollar bill that I created on the computer. Unfortunately  since we were at the lake for Memorial Day weekend we did not realize that the large size and sculpted curves in the deer form would not work well together.  So onto Plan B or is that C now? We decided to reduce the size of the bill.  This meant much more work for less coverage and perhaps less bang for our "buck"?  
So I  used the stencil Shawn made to make a painted print on paper, which I scanned into the computer and re sized to create smaller stencils.  The first large stencil was cut out of contact paper, the smaller stencils were cut out of vellum because it was easier for me to cut them out with the x-acto knife.  More stencils were required because the vellum was less durable than the contact paper and we had reduced the size of the bill meaning more Ben's were required.

 We began to run out of time and energy so the 100's were added to the four corners of the bills.  At this point we decided the look was close enough to get the point across and we moved on to adding dollar signs using stencils of different sizes. Each dollar sign was drawn with pencil and then hand painted.   The process was time consuming and ran us late into the night.  I decided to pull out the glow-in-the-dark paint and painted his ears and spots on the grass.  So YES! He does glow in the dark. 

Sister Heather came to the rescue Saturday along with my teenage niece Taylor Martin.  Shawn also came in from Austin to lend a helping hand.  They all kept working on hand painting the dollar signs, while I began the Pyramid under the right eye.  Lou came in behind me taping the bricks and painting them in. We both worked on the eyelashes or glow around the eye.  

It was Sunday morning early on Father's Day and "Mr. Big Bucks" was due at T Paint and Body for his urethane gloss coat on Monday. We both  looked at each other and decided he was DONE.  We spent the day with my Dad, away from the many shades of green paint and our totally wrecked dining room/paint studio.
"Mr. Big Bucks" is currently grazing in front of Llano National Bank on Ford Street in Llano for the next month or so.  "Mr. Big Bucks" and the rest of the herd are available for purchase through an online, auction-style bidding process that ends February 2011. For details check with Robin  Chiesa 325/247-4963 at Circle on the square Art Gallery in Llano. ALL of the money goes to charity and the continuation of the Trail of the Deer Community Art Project.   If "Mr. Big Bucks" brings his owner/purchaser as much good fortune as he has brought us then he is really worth his weight in gold!!!